When will there be medium format digital cinema?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cube, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. cube macrumors G5

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    #1
    Getting rid of film, could medium-format sensors be the next big thing?
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #2
    Doubtful. The 35mm Cine-sized sensors seem to be performing well, and we probably have a while before anything larger will be cost-effective at reading off the sensor and writing to media with a fast enough frame rate. Plus we're still seeing the update to IMAX projectors at a local level, and if you go higher resolution, you'd have to update the projectors to take advantage of it- that's a very expensive undertaking.

    Wikipedia says:

    As of 2009 the most common acquisition medium for digitally projected features is 35 mm film scanned and processed at 2K (2048×1080) or 4K (4096×2160) resolution via digital intermediate. Most digital features to date have been shot at 1920x1080 HD resolution using cameras such as the Sony CineAlta, Panavision Genesis or Thomson Viper. New cameras such as the Arriflex D-20 can capture 2K resolution images, and the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company's Red One can record 4K redcode *RAW. The marketshare of 2K projection in digital cinemas is over 98%. Currently in development are other cameras capable of recording 4K RAW, such as Dalsa Corporation's Origin, and cameras capable of recording 5K *RAW, such as the RED EPIC, and cameras capable of recording 3K *RAW (for budget filmmakers) such as the RED SCARLET.

    Paul
     
  3. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #3
    I know what's out there, the rationale being that when the electronics get fast enough, the price of a medium format sensor is only a small fraction of the cost of a non-RED digital cinema camera. Of course, then one needs the lenses to go with.

    There are always cinema chains that invest in gaining an edge (digital -> 4K -> 3D). That pulls the rest some time later.

    Cinema also now needs to motivate people to not just watch the movies on their 2K, soon 4K TVs.

    I think the main problem is if you need an IMAX-sized screen.

    If medium format DSLRs gain video capabilities, this could start a small trend. But will there be a place to show it?
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #4
    There are large sensors already. But when they shoot using film is is mostly on 35mm film with the film moving vertically. Standard motion pictures going back 50+ years use what we would call a "crop body" frame size. I think the frames are 24mm wide.

    They could use a larger sensor but what would they gain? You would not need more then 4K pixels across the horz. direction so the larger sensor would get you two things
    1) Better dynamic range with less noise
    2) Mch reduced DOF.

    The movie industry has such large budget that they add light to "everything", even wide outdoor shots will use huge reflectors for fill-in. So they don't need more dynamic range, not when you have a crew that can light every shot.

    I don't think the reduced DOF would an advantage.
     
  5. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #5
    OK, so what you are saying is that medium format DSLRs with video would be great for low-budget movies.
     
  6. emorydunn macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Not really, digital medium format cameras are expensive, around $20,000. Although I guess deepening on what your budget is it might be worth it.
     
  7. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #8
    No, there aren't- it's taken more than a decade to roll out IMAX. 3D is the next big thing in movies/TV and higher resolution isn't going to cut it on today's bandwidth.

    And how does more resolution do that? The draw in a movie is the plot, the characters and the story, not the technology outside of good 3D and good animation, neither of which need more resolution, especially when viewed from 50' away.

    Again, you're not going to pump that much resolution into memory at 100 frames a second without some *serious* upgrades that cost lots of money. Medium format is being killed by 35mm- bumping the price of the cameras another $10k isn't going to help that.

    Paul
     
  9. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #9
    The question was "when". Eventually the required processing power for higher resolution will be cheap.
     
  10. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #10
    IMAX requires building a whole new theater, not just upgrading the projector, and eventually the screen.

    How much resolution could a normal theater use?
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #11
    Yes, but the answer was "Why?" There's no compelling need for more than 4k of resolution in today's content. There's not likely to be anytime soon, as in the average theater you're sitting at least 50' from the screen- to use more resolution in a meaningful way, you have to make it worth-while to the viewer. On-demand video and 3D TV are going to hurt theaters, and going from 4k to 8k in the entire production and distribution chain isn't going to counter that threat.

    Normal movies are fine at 2k, going to 4k helps some with digital productions, going beyond that really doesn't materially help as far as I can see.

    You're also forgetting that video requires powering the sensor full-time, so you're going to have thermal issues trying to shoot a feature-length production in anything other than very short takes.

    Going digital reduced the costs to the film maker, distributor and retailer, going to a higher resolution doesn't have an easy ROI. We're much more likely to see VR0-like glasses as a next step than another retooling of theaters which have already invested heavy capital to get where they are- let alone swapping out the production equipment. Is anyone but Red even doing 6K cameras?
     
  12. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #12
  13. pdxflint macrumors 68020

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    #13
    ...whew! For a minute or two I thought I was in the digital photography forum. ;)
     
  14. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #15
    That doesn't mean we'll see it or that it'll propagate into theaters, or that it'll be commercially viable at that time- the French had monochrome HD in the late '40's. It's taken more than 20 years to get the US to the point where HDTV is common, and it still doesn't have the lion's share despite lower TV prices, larger screens and lack of repair options for many tube-based sets. The bulk of people aren't going to upgrade simply for higher resolution. HDTV came at a time when several things were convergent- spectrum reshuffling, LCD/Plasma panels and a significant drop in the price of the sets. If 3D entrenches itself before then, it'll be a huge barrier to entry to getting sets out to consumers.

    While the spectrum issue is slowly becoming moot for a lot of people, the US sold a metric buttload of converters.

    (For what it's worth, I spent a fair amount of time dealing with the HDTV specs pre-standard when I worked for Gannett, who owned ~24 broadcast TV stations at the time, though I spent more time on the possible utilization of the sidebands during low-activity broadcasting than on the economics as it was a USG mandate.)

    If you'd seen the wrangling over the CODECs and standards for HDTV, which made the DOCSIS stuff for our cable division look like a walk in the park methinks you'd have far less optimism.

    The market (consumer) doesn't need more resolution- the only potential pushers are the equipment manufacturers, and they have a lower chance of achieving a refresh this close to HDTV's general acceptance than they'd like to think.

    Paul
     
  16. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #16
    Google is planning a test 1 Gbps network for 500K people.

    Japan is in their second generation production HDTV (the first was analog).

    4K TV sets are already there.

    Super Hi Vision's idea is for the wall to be the screen.

    If people have 8K at home, what happens to the theaters?

    Personally, I think 8K could arrive much sooner than 2025.

    Will there be a need for larger sensors for 8K movies?
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    Please explain your thinking on how a round of consumers coming out of a jobless recession who just bought HDTV sets is going to suddenly go spend all that money again in say 5 years. Please explain how, having just purchased the equipment for 4k, the studios are going to start producing 8k movies. Please explain how having just gotten to 4k projectors, theaters are incentivised to move to 8k projectors? If IMAX didn't have larger screens, it'd still be in limited special-purpose theaters- resolution isn't the main reason people enjoy the IMAX experience.

    35mm sensors are getting denser, 35mm sensors still cost significantly less than larger sensors, and until we have processes that don't produce defects the cost difference is going to still be significant. Even with compelling arguments for all of the above- what about the content is going to be so much better that as a studio i'd want to purchase 10 cameras for my capital outlay instead of 30 cameras?

    Higher resolution wouldn't have given Avatar a better plot.

    Paul
     
  18. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Just out of interest (and I think this topic is insane) but how much bigger would the cine lenses have to be to cover a sensor 6cm wide (vs 35mm)?
     
  19. Consultant macrumors G5

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    #19
    Perhaps this is the future? =p
     

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  20. TMay macrumors 68000

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  21. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #21
    IMAX (analog) is 18K. And there are no digital IMAX cameras.

    IMAX cameras are already huge.
     
  22. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Didn't you just answer your own question here? "When" will be when the required processing power for higher resolutions becomes cheap enough...?

    The theaters will still be there, displaying 16K, 32K, or 64K movies on screens much larger than anyone has in their house (the important part).

    3D didn't give avatar a better plot :). Technological advancements will not make a classic from a poor plot.

    Ruahrc
     
  23. cube thread starter macrumors G5

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    #23
    Epic 645 is the answer to the thread. 617 goes beyond that.
     
  24. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #24
    The same size as MF lenses for the given focal lengths- which gives the same cost/size/availability issues.
     
  25. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #25
    Yes, but 3D made it visually appealing enough to sit through- doubling the resolution wouldn't have.
     

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